By Dinah Posner

It has been my observation that men hide porn, and women hide bridal magazines. Those ubiquitous ad-packed two-inch thick bibles of bride-dom can't possibly survive only on the readership of actual brides-to-be. The slack is picked up by we closeted romantics, we covert seekers of the Perfect Dress, we who secretly dream of cruising the aisles at Crate & Barrel with a clipboard and a fiancé. We may not be engaged. Hell, we may not even be dating anyone, but that doesn't lessen the collective longing to leaf through pages of veils, china and all-inclusive resorts.

My first foray into the nuptial periodical world just whetted the appetite, and now I have a stash that hides in my closet and under my bed, eerily echoing my older brother's adolescent collection of girlie magazines. Only when my (male) roommate is out of the house do I undergo my transformation from independent minded woman to devout member of the Cult of the Perfect Wedding. Suddenly I am a worshipper of all things bridal: rings, vows, dresses and shoes...Oh the shoes. Those delicate pure white confections coy yet inviting that only get worn once then tucked in a box or better yet a hope chest. China and crystal, beautiful sheets and plush towels. I love the lists of everything one ought to register for. Grapefruit spoons. Breadmakers. Napkin rings. Place card holders. Things that while a girl is single, are unimportant, but as one prepares to be carried over this threshold everything changes.

I pour over each advertisement. I am single minded, almost meditative as I select bridesmaids dresses and revise my list of attendants that has been changing since I was fifteen. I choose dignified invitations, sumptuous menus, elegant gifts for the groomsmen, the most delicious cake. I want it all. The whole fairy tale right down to the little tulle bags of jordan almonds. But where are the advertisements for true love? At which emporium do I register for a Nice Young Man Unafraid to Purchase Major Jewelry? And here's the real kicker: once I find him will I be ready? Not that I'd turn away a man bearing a certain carbon-based gemstone, but am I prepared to share my life with someone when I can barely share a bathroom?

Take away the Calphalon and the calla lillies and the realization sets in that a wedding isn't about all that definitely cool but ultimately materialistic stuff. Closing my contraband reading for the evening, I snap out of my trance and realize that while I want the dress and the ring and the hand towels....I'm not quite ready for the eternal love/husband part of the package. I'm not worried. I've got plenty of time and besides, the good magazines only come out twice a year. If I'm ever to be ready, I'll need time to build my archive. I wonder if my brother has any extra room under his mattress...

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